What Is an IVR System, and What Does It Mean to Your Company?
IVR is a common term in the contact centre environment. Used to refer to the technology companies use for routing customer conversations, ’Interactive Voice Response’ can improve the efficiency and performance of a contact centre, or indeed any business which handles calls.
Even in a world of video, instant messaging, and chat, 48% of customers still rely on phone conversations to solve common problems. However, these people want to ensure that when they do call a company they need help from, they won’t be waiting endlessly on hold.
An IVR system, also called an ‘Auto Attendant’, can be a valuable tool when you’re managing and optimising high numbers of inbound calls. Here’s what you need to know.
IVR Meaning: What Does IVR Stand For?
IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. It’s an increasingly common tool in businesses today. In the contact centre ecosystem, IVRs work in tandem with Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) tools to influence how companies and customers interact.
Your IVR solution collects information from a caller, then uses that information to route the conversation to the right person based on skill or availability.
Most people interact with IVR systems on a regular basis, whenever they call a business and need to ‘press 2’ to speak to someone. Some IVR solutions are simple, using number-based rules to determine specific paths for customers.
Others are more advanced, leveraging technology such as AI and Natural Language Understanding to determine a customer’s needs.
IVRs are most common among larger businesses dealing with significant numbers of calls. The more calls you receive, the more likely it is you’ll need an IVR to help you manage them.
How Does the IVR Work?
The functionality of your IVR will depend on the kind of system you get. A basic IVR solution saves companies time by helping to organise the workforce and increase the chance of rapid response rates.
The basic IVR system generally uses a technology called Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency signalling to determine where a call should go when a customer presses a specific number on their keypad. This is the cheapest option for most companies.
More advanced IVR systems are becoming increasingly popular in the age of customer experience, as businesses search for better ways to manage calls. These state-of-the-art solutions can help with collecting customer information for analysis, through AI data management, and they can ensure companies are compliant with the latest privacy and security guidelines by acquiring consent (e.g. in line with GDPR) before a call begins.
Advanced IVRs also use natural language processing software, or conversational AI to listen to a customer’s voice, and direct their call based on what they hear. This allows the IVR system to better understand the needs of the customer and route the call accordingly.
IVR Advantages and Disadvantages
There aren’t a lot of downsides to IVR technology. While you do sometimes need to pay for the service, most of the top contact centre and customer experience management solutions on the market today come with IVR technology built in.
You can also integrate your IVR with a range of tools, including business performance analytics and customer journey tracking with minimal developer knowledge.
Outside of cost, the only other potential downside to an IVR system is that a basic solution might be considered cumbersome or inaccurate by some customers. The standard old-fashioned IVR systems won’t always send customers to the right location first time around.
Top 7 Benefits of IVR Technology
If you invest in the right IVR offering for your business needs, you can unlock a host of valuable benefits, including:
1. Improved Data Analytics
As mentioned above, an intelligent IVR system can form an important part of your customer journey strategy. You can collect information from your audience and keep track of trends in customer service requests and requirements. This could improve customer service in the long term.
2. Increased First Contact Resolution
Effective IVR systems can detect the needs of your customer immediately and connect them to a staff member with the required skills to address their issues. Intelligent routing strategies which send customers to agents based on their skillsets can significantly increase your chances of First Call Resolution and reduce the need for multiple transfers.
3. Better Efficiency
Efficient call management processes can save companies money, help to impress customers, and boost your chances of long-term customer loyalty. Customer service representatives working in a company with an IVR are more likely to experience an efficient workplace.
The IVR system helps to organise the flow of conversations, with a focus on getting problems resolved as quickly as possible.
4. Reduced Operational Costs
IVR systems can replace customer service agents and receptionists responsible for screening calls and directing them to the right person. This not only increases the speed of resolution for customers, it also means that you can reduce the costs involved with running your business. Most of the best IVR systems are extremely affordable today, and flexible to suit different business needs.
5. Improved Brand Image
A high-quality IVR system can greet your customers and give them a great first impression of your brand. It’s your chance to leave a positive impression on your customer before they have a chance to talk to a customer service agent.
With an intelligent IVR system, you can even show your customers that you’re willing to invest in the latest technology to improve your service.
6. Self-Service Opportunities
Many of the modern IVR systems equipped with natural language processing solutions can also be programmed to assist with a range of self-service requirements. For instance, your system could allow your customers to check their balance, make a purchase, or renew a service without talking to a person.
This takes the pressure off your human team and ensures that customers get a faster service experience.
7. Improved Customer Experience
When your IVR is reliable, easy to use, and effective, customers never have to worry about being routed to the wrong department or ending up with an agent who can’t solve their problem. The result is happier customers who are more likely to trust your company.
Every Business Needs an IVR Solution
In a world where customer experience is crucial, the right IVR solution is the key to maintaining a happy customer base. Your IVR solution will save your workforce time, make your business more efficient, and give you the opportunity to build better relationships with your target audience.